Last week, my 19-year-old son had an ingrown toenail removed, but not before an infection had set in.
The podiatrist gave him an antibiotic, and I, his loving mother, made sure he took it.
On Thursday, the podiatrist called him and said she was changing the antibiotic because his infection was resistant to the first drug prescribed.
My son always reads the printout that accompanies his prescriptions. We laughed at hearing that possible side effects included going bald, becoming constipated and becoming drowsy. My son didn't read aloud the first paragraph, and we all would later regret that.
One objective of American Pharmacists Month, celebrated nationally in October, is to emphasize to people the importance of becoming more aware of the medicines they take and being familiar enough with their pharmacist "to ensure drug therapy is as safe and effective as possible."
Brad Hall, executive director of the Kentucky Pharmacist Association, said pharmacists can be an integral part of our health care. They are the experts, he said.
"I am not a pharmacist, but I have three small children," Hall said. "I ask the pharmacist how to pronounce the medication, what it is and what it is for. Take a minute or two to ask. There are no off-the-wall questions."
People tend to trust the pharmacist, though. And I assume that the pharmacist will warn me when something looks suspicious or if I need to take greater precaution.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn't bother to talk to her pharmacist before taking a sleep agent and cold medicine at the same time last week. She was rushed to a hospital after falling out of an airplane seat.
It is definitely a plus to know your pharmacist. But what if you don't? Or what if all your information is on the computer and the pharmacist still makes a mistake?
My son took one of his prescribed pills about 4 p.m. Thursday and went to his room to work on his computer. At 11 p.m., when I passed by his room, he was asleep with the laptop still on. He had studied late the night before, so I assumed he was tired.
As I left, I told him to wake up and take another pill to get the antibiotics flowing.
Then I went to bed.
At 6 a.m., as I was about to start my devotionals, I noticed the printout on the table, and I picked it up and read it. The drug my son had taken was doxepin, an antidepressant. The dosage was 100 milligrams, to be taken twice a day.
It didn't make sense to me. Why would a podiatrist prescribe an antidepressant for an infection? I headed to the computer and found nothing that said doxepin could be used for an infection. I discovered that 100 mg was a large dose of that drug for first-time use.
I called the pharmacist on duty and asked him to check the prescription. He said perhaps because of bad penmanship, my son had been given the wrong medicine. He should have gotten doxycycline.
I woke my son, who was still extremely drowsy, and I told him I wanted him to move.
He's OK, but no one should have to go through that scare. The Poison Control Center said that had my son been smaller, had he obeyed his mother and taken more of the medicine, the results could have been tragic.
I couldn't help but wonder that if there were questions arising from the interpretation of the handwriting, shouldn't that have warranted a phone call to the doctor?
Mike Burleson, executive director of the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy, said situations like that could at least warrant questions. Pharmacists occasionally have difficulty reading doctors' handwriting, and they have to call to verify prescriptions.
But, he said, we should have read the patient information sheet more carefully.
"I would encourage people, when I had my own pharmacy, to always call me," Burleson said.
We have to be more diligent with our own health care. Consider this a lesson learned.